Constance Tomb was the brain child of Washington based multi-instrumentalist Tony Reed who originally wrote and recorded these tracks in 1988. Originally the songs were recorded using two track tape to tape overdubbing which resulted in the songs having a lot of hiss. Thirty two years later Tony has re-recorded them, as he always wondered what they would’ve sounded like recorded in a professional studio. The results are pleasing; the ten tracks give a snapshot of where this particular musician and genre was in 1988.
With any gothic band that has ‘Spiritual’ in a song title it is easy to think of ‘Cramp’ so it is no surprise that our first introduction takes us back to the Batcave. The first minute of Spiritual Stairway has loud guitar, instant punky vocals and a strong goth bassline. The Crowbar doomy midsection guides us into wonderfully melodic guitar that leads out the song. It is indeed a song of two halves, the raw to the beautiful.
Amokt has pounding drums, a trademark of the Constance Tomb sound. It is reminiscent of Specimen and early Adam and the Ants. With its simple heavy rock riff, the result is short and claustrophobic. The Doomsday Subliminalist is full of goth‘n’roll trad attitude, has fantastic lead guitar and sounds like early Killing Joke.
Crawl is the epic song of the album. It starts out like a piece of gothic AOR, bringing an unusual summer vibe. The creepy preacher vocals compliment the Robert Smith-like guitar sounds that give the impression of a spider crawling around the fret board. This is the track most likely to fill a dance floor.
Neurosleep features the now familiar pounding drums, with its Christian Death and post punk rock vibe. This is followed by the evil surf chaos of The Last Picture Show. It brings images of The Cramps fighting monsters in a cinema. Orthodox Seduction does indeed have a very seductive bassline. It draws you in with its ‘two steps forward – two steps back’ beat. A fine break from the previous duo of demonic rockers, it would suit a David Lynch film. Big Brother Doom brings us back into familiar territory. The drums, the bass; it sounds like an amalgamation of Bauhaus and The Stooges.
Poison Performance has light and dark unusual time changes at the beginning. Indie guitar nestles between chaotic heaviness. Gorgeous guitar alongside melodic vocals in the middle leads to an all too brief stadium rock segment that left me wanting more. It feels like two songs joined together and I would have preferred more of the latter. Blood Red Eternity has a heavy stoner groove and sludgy Ozzy like vocals. It sounds like The Melvins and Sabbath and gives the impression of an army of beasts marching towards you. The final two songs feel like they may have come from another project as they take the listener on a very different journey, thus the album ends as divided as the first track.
There is a wide variety of listening pleasures on Constance Tomb, sometimes in the same track, most of which are reasonably short but this can leave the listener wanting more. It sounds like the result of a young musician full of ideas and wanting to cram them into as little time as possible. Tony Reed is obviously a big fan of Rozz Williams and it shows, as his influence is evident throughout the album. This authentic 1980’s nostalgia trip is worthy of being in your collection if you like your goth more Batcave than Trad.
Tony Reed has since been member of several bands, including Mos Generator, Big Scenic Nowhere, Hot Spring Water, Twelve Thirty Dreamtime, Treepeople, and Stone Axe. He also is a sound engineer who works from his HeavyHead Recording Company studio in Port Orchard, Washington.
01. Spiritual Stairway
03. The Doomsday Subliminalist
06. The Last Picture Show
07. Orthodox Seduction
08. Big Brother Doom
09. Poison Performances
10. Blood Red Eternity